Showdown: 3-Way 70s Forced Induction Import Battle

The grate keeps the squirrels out…or in?

In our last Showdown, the Country Sedan stomped all over the Chevy Panel Wagon. Some accused me of stacking the deck in favor of a Ford like my own, but I don’t set the prices. I just picked two examples in the same price range. Anyway, onward
We’re mixing things up today with a trio of 70s imports equipped with hairdryers and a price point of about $6000…

turbo datsun 280z
Jaw-droppingly awesome

The 280z gets a bad rap as the poster child of smog regs killing an otherwise great car. Displacement went up, but power went down. The best way to fix that? Forced induction, babyThis one‘s got a turbo motor from a 280zx hooked up to a 5-speed stick and a pile of suspension upgrades. It’s had some body work done, but seems like it needs some more, based on the seller pointing out it’s got “typical Z rust” around the hatch. Not perfect, but a pretty good start at $6500.

Datsun 510s are well-loved as a paragon of no-frills nimble little demons. A little short on power, though. Luckily, our seller has decided to rectify that with a big block Chevy turbo Mazda 12a rotary engine. Sure, it’s a torqueless wonder, but in an 1800lb car that’s not much of an issue. There’s a truckload of other well thought-out modifications, to the point where we’re kinda left wondering “what’s the catch?”. $6500 ain’t bad. Also: bitchin’ splitter.

While the RX-7 and -8 get all the wankel attention these days, too many forget the earlier RX-s like this 1971 Mazda RX2 with a turbo 13b swapped in. Seems like a great little car, ready for some kind of track action, with one minor hangup:

Straight boby no rust recently painted, clean interior, new seats, turbo II transmission, 4 wheel disc brakes, roll cage, micro tech fuel management, 1990 turbo 13b bridge port motor, engine is pinned, lightened assembly, needs turbo

Oh noes! Still, this one’s the cheapest of the group at $5900, and has the added bonus of almost no one knowing what the hell it is.
So, what’ll it be? Blank slate 280z, wankeled 510 or caged RX2 in need of a new hairdryer?
[poll id=”5″]

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  1. joshuman Avatar

    Where's Wanklin'? He would love this post. I vote 510 because yeah, that splitter is bitchin'.

  2. Kogashiwa Avatar

    I probably won't be alone in saying the 510 is the clear winner here.
    The Zed would be a lot more appealing with an RB-series engine instead of the L.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      When I got to "RB series" my first thought was "413 Max Wedge in a Z? Win."

  3. engineerd Avatar

    This is a toughy. The 280z is killer — especially at that price. The 510, as well. And it has a bitchin' splitter. However, I went with Door #3. Sure, it still needs a key ingredient, but how hard could that be to find? Plus, 510s are a dime a dozen (pun intentended). The RX-2…it's unique. It's trackable, unlike the 280Z, and doesn't carry the "I'm too poor for a BMW" stigma that the 510 has.

    1. skitter Avatar

      I'm with you. If I must have a rotary, I will take it with a healthy serving of 'WTH?'.

  4. Sivart_R1 Avatar

    Had to go with the RX-2. As much as I love seeing a rotary swapped into a car for a change, I have a soft spot for the old rotaries. If it's got a microtech, you can toss on just about any turbo you've got available, T3/T4 is pretty common. With the engine being a 13b from a 1990 donor, there are plenty of available manifolds both stock and aftermarket.

  5. superbadd75 Avatar

    Okay, so call me too poor for a BMW, mainly because I am. 510 all the way because it just rocks. Maybe that Wankel can get the ol' heave-ho down the road some day and a nice SR20DET can take its place.

  6. Jo_Schmo Avatar

    I am going to vote for the 510 as I have an unhealthy little crush on this:
    <img src=""&gt;
    Seller only wants $850 for it but doesn't know anything about it as he is selling it for his daughter and I can't find the time to drive 45 minutes to see it.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      You can't find the….???!!!!
      That's it; somebody rip the stripes from his sleeves.

    2. JawzX Avatar

      Where the hell is this car?????? I MUST KNOW NOW.

    3. Alff Avatar

      For $850 I would not only drive the 45 minutes, I would gladly put up with the grief I would get from my better half for parking a fifth car in the driveway. It isn't anywhere near KC, is it (looking in the background, I know the answer)?
      Maybe Tanshanomi would let me park it at his place.

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        Leave me the keys to keep the fluid circulated, and you can park it at my house. The wife even likes it.

    4. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Linky please? There's about to be an arm wrestling match for dibs here…

      1. Jo_Schmo Avatar

        Its MINE!!! I'm going to try and go check it out this weekend. Its in Utah btw.

        1. BrianTheHoon Avatar

          Deal of the century, dude. Your Hoon Directive is to buy it and document your tuning efforts to turn this into into the Hooniverse's mascot/parts fetcher for Scuderia Hooniverso.
          A worthwhile project for you and fodder for a fun series of posts for us! What's not to like?

    5. engineerd Avatar

      Remember when your dad sat you down and told you about the birds and the bees? Did he use the line, "Wait until you're married…or, at least in love?" Did he also tell you not to pussy foot around with girls because if you do the good ones will be taken?
      Listen to your dad. You're in love, so stop pussy footin' around or it will be gone.

      1. Jo_Schmo Avatar

        'neerd you are so money! I'm calling first thing in the morning. Come saturday I shall own the mini Hoonwagon! I fully expect that should it be nonfunctional one of my fellow Hoons will back me up with a truck and trailer. And maybe a nice deal on a gently used Cosworth or something similarly "economical"

        1. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          This is the kind of behavior we encourage.
          Project car posts are always welcome.

        2. pj134 Avatar

          Can one of these find it's way into your car?
          that would be sexy.

    6. CptSevere Avatar

      Schmo, that was our family car when I was in fourth grade. GET IT NOW. Then, paint it British Racing Green, to make it Severe. Needs a nice chrome bumper, as well. Looks like it's in Tooele, from the mountains pictured. Go get it. Don't Be Weak.

    7. muthalovin Avatar

      Schmo, go get this. This shalt be Hooniverse Team Mascot. This is sooooo much better than the überbird.
      Yeah, I went there, so what?!

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Hmm…I wonder what this "ban IP" button does…
        (is joke)

    8. iheartstiggie Avatar

      It's the cutest thing ever. I daresay (and I'll never admit this should be *real* name be used) that this is almost better than a Squareback.


    I voted for the 280, and the RX2 is a stylin' little bucket o'bolts, but the 510 makes me go tight in the pants.
    Mmmmm… 510 pant gravy… mmmmm…

  8. JawzX Avatar

    OK, the RX2 has rotory awesome going for it with the 13b, and if it were a stock 510 vs the RX2, the RX would take it home. But the 510, WITH a 12a makes the other two look as bland as over-cooked rice.

  9. BGW Avatar

    The RX2 brings back memories of the clapped-out RX4 in which my older brother often scared the everloving shitfire out of me drove me to elementary school, so I'm tempted to go that route. But in the end, I'm a sucker for a 510.
    And I've never cared a great deal for any of the Z cars. I'll leave my gun and badge on the Lieutenant's desk.

  10. Feds Avatar

    Gotta be the RX-2. These are wicked quick with just an NA 13b. Second, enough people give up on their TII's after the 100th apex seal spits out the side that turbos are cheap and plentiful.

  11. theeastbaykid Avatar

    I like the RX2. Probably because it's the worst.

  12. pj134 Avatar

    I voted Z because I have a fixation with z's and zx's and sx's (of the 240 variety)
    Anyway, I wanted to push a social agenda as well, a fellow car lover needs help getting an engine and we've started donating to his paypal, if he can't get the cash he'll refund to everyone, but lets try to get this guy up to his 700 dollar target. He's currently a seventh of the way there, so help a fellow car lover out, even if you don't love the car!

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Thanks for the link to the Jalop story. Donated.

  13. pj134 Avatar

    Amen sir, amen.

  14. Maymar Avatar

    As the ad taught us, the RX2 goes hmmmmm, and it feels like something's going hmmmm in my happy place.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      This. My vote may have been different if that 510 was a wagon, but I had to go with the RX2.

  15. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    While the Z really suits me better than either of the others, $6500 is just too damned much for this one. The Mazda gets points for being the car that the most bystanders wouldn't know, but in the end, I had to vote for the 510. $6500 is a lot of money for a little box on wheels, but the market for 510s is really quite strong, and makes the 510 the deal of the comparo.

  16. BGW Avatar

    I wish I'd seen this yesterday, as it would have made an interesting 4th Choice: '70 Datsun 521 w/ turbo Chevy 283, among other donated pieces…

  17. LBJs_Love_Child Avatar

    I've always had a wanklin' for 510s.

  18. dustin_driver Avatar

    Love the 510, however the RX engine swap makes me cringe. Now the RX-2, on the other hand . . . that's pure Malaise tin box sex. It's fugly. It's fast. It will probably explode. It gets my vote.

  19. spyware removal hartford Avatar

    It’s nice to see this place is finally getting the attention that it really deserves! Keep up the great work.

  20. Boldy Avatar

    Hola, їPuedo tomar obtener Foto de su blog? Boldy